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Howl, Howl, Howl!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Fanny Kemble, 22 May 2008

Fanny Kemble: A Performed Life 
by Deirdre David.
Pennsylvania, 347 pp., £26, June 2007, 978 0 8122 4023 8
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... on both sides of the Atlantic. Dressed in a carefully chosen series of gowns – by Deirdre David’s report, the wardrobe consisted of black or red velvet for the tragedies, white or pastel satin for the comedies, and dark green or blue brocade for the history plays – and with no props other than a large reading desk, some piled-up books and a pair ...

Blake at work

David Bindman, 2 April 1981

William Blake, printmaker 
by Robert Essick.
Princeton, 304 pp., £27.50, August 1980, 0 691 03954 2
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... Essick’s approach. By sticking very close to the act of engraving one can bring to light much of vital importance, but there is the inherent danger of losing a sense of the wider implications. In considering the development of Blake’s relief etching from its beginnings in 1788 to its apogee in 1793-4, Essick claims essentially that the transformation from ...

Simple Facts and Plain Truths

David A. Bell: Common Sense, 20 October 2011

Common Sense: A Political History 
by Sophia Rosenfeld.
Harvard, 337 pp., £22.95, 0 674 05781 3
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... colleagues. They were horrified by the progress of philosophical scepticism, exemplified by David Hume, which they saw as corroding the foundations of Christian faith. Reid, in An Inquiry into the Human Mind, on the Principles of Common Sense of 1764, argued in response that ‘there are certain principles … which the constitution of our nature ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane, 24 September 2015

Landmarks 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... and motley as the usage of the British Isles as a whole. Macfarlane has alerted us afresh to a vital strand in the way we define our world and articulate our experience of it by reminding us of a whole tribe of words capable of revitalising our speech and writing, not only about country matters but, through metaphor, about almost any theme you care to ...

Why Goldwyn Wore Jodhpurs

David Thomson, 22 June 2000

The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper 
by Dominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp., £17.99, October 1999, 0 609 60388 4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers 
by Maria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp., £22, November 1999, 0 8109 4130 9
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... movies and now the video footage. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was working on the life of David O. Selznick, the man who produced Gone with the Wind, Rebecca and Duel in the Sun. It was a great help, yet a daunting obstacle, that Selznick had kept virtually every bit of paper that passed through his office. But the family archive had other ...

Architect as Hero

David Cannadine, 21 January 1982

Lutyens: The Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens 
Hayward Gallery, 200 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 7287 0304 1Show More
Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate 
by Roderick Gradidge.
Allen and Unwin, 167 pp., £13.95, November 1981, 0 04 720023 5
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Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi 
by Robert Grant Irving.
Yale, 406 pp., £20, November 1981, 0 300 02422 3
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Lutyens: Country Houses 
by Daniel O’Neill.
Lund Humphries, 167 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 85331 428 4
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Lutyens and the Sea Captain 
by Margaret Richardson.
Scolar, 40 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 85967 646 3
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Houses and Gardens by E.L. Lutyens 
by Lawrence Weaver.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 344 pp., £19.50, January 1982, 0 902028 98 7
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... the assassination attempt on the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, held up planning and decision-making at a vital stage; the First World War brought building almost to a standstill; and the subsequent commissions of inquiry imposed further and drastic economies. As a result, the city took 19 years to build, and was occupied by the British for only another 16: by the ...

What Is He Supposed To Do?

David Cannadine, 8 December 1994

The Prince of Wales 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 620 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 91016 3
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... that Prince Charles is reflective or self-aware enough to have grasped this sad, simple and vital truth. To be sure, we are repeatedly informed that he is drawn to history, nostalgia, heritage and tradition. But the first of these is not easily reconciled with the rest. Despite having read history at Cambridge, the Prince’s sense of the past is, like ...

Saved by the Ant’s Fore-Foot

David Trotter: Pound’s Martyrology, 7 July 2005

The Pisan Cantos 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
New Directions, 159 pp., $13.95, October 2003, 9780811215589
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Poems and Translations 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
Library of America, 1363 pp., $45, October 2003, 1 931082 41 3
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... is usually interpreted in the light of his subsequent assertion that it expresses emotions as ‘vital’ to him ‘in 1917, faced with the infinite and ineffable imbecility of the British Empire, as they were to Propertius some centuries earlier, when faced with the infinite and ineffable imbecility of the Roman Empire’.* These are virtual narratives, the ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... is the story, told in Philip Hoare’s 1995 biography, of Coward’s visit to the Court to see David Storey’s grittily realistic Rugby League play The Changing Room. His attention having been drawn to the male genitalia on display in the bath scene, Coward remarked: ‘13 acorns are not worth the price of admission.’ ‘Not worth the price of ...

Best Beloved

Kevin Brownlow, 18 April 1985

Chaplin: His Life and Art 
by David Robinson.
Collins, 792 pp., £15, March 1985, 9780002163873
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... French – still searching for an English publisher), Richard Schickel’s D. W. Griffith and now David Robinson’s Chaplin. All have one vital quality in common, and are preceded in this respect by Alexander Walker’s book on Garbo: they depend far less upon books of film history than upon first-class and ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... In the Thirties and early Forties the English poet David Gascoyne was much enamoured of the Continental, Late Romantic image of writing and of the writer as a visionary misfit. By the end of the Thirties, his place in the great Euro-Visionary Song Contest was almost secured. He confessed his ambition in his Journals in 1938: Want to write an essay on ‘The Apotheosis of Lautréamont ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... had produced not a glimpse of Wilsonia. Many years later, inspired by the Spycatcher revelations, David Leigh of the Observer has set out on the journey once more. There is no one better qualified. All through the awful Eighties David Leigh has kept the flag of investigative journalism fluttering high. He has a stack of ...

Down and Out in London

David Cannadine, 16 July 1981

Rothschild Buildings: Life in an East End Tenement Block 1887-1920 
by Jerry White.
Routledge, 301 pp., £11.50, September 1980, 0 7100 0603 9
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East End Underworld: Chapters in the Life of Arthur Harding 
by Raphael Samuel.
Routledge, 355 pp., £11.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0725 6
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... false charges. But, at the same time, cordial relations with the force were an integral, indeed a vital, part of underworld life. And although for much of his life he was a threat to law and order, Harding’s political opinions were essentially the conservatism of those who claim to have no politics. Both of these books excel in presenting ‘the real-life ...

Barclay’s War

David Chandler, 19 March 1981

The Commander: A Life of Barclay de Tolly 
by Michael Josselson and Diana Josselson.
Oxford, 275 pp., £12.95, June 1980, 0 19 215854 6
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... him to the end of his days, it earned him the rank of Lieutenant-General and – the truly vital point – brought him into personal contact with Tsar Alexander for the first time (at Memel in April 1807). The Tsar was impressed by the forthright views of this unknown soldier, and sent his personal surgeon to tend his wounds. After the fresh disaster ...

When in Bed

David Blackbourn, 19 October 1995

Reflections on a Life 
by Norbert Elias.
Polity, 166 pp., £35, October 1994, 0 7456 1383 7
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The Civilising Process 
by Norbert Elias.
Blackwell, 558 pp., £50, March 1994, 0 631 19222 0
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... the book rests, between a rational, refined, mechanical French ‘civilisation’ and an inward, vital, organic German ‘culture’, also seems much less compelling now. It would have been familiar to Elias from Thomas Mann’s ‘Observations of an Unpolitical Man’(1918) and Alfred Weber’s writings, and it enjoyed a long shelf-life after 1945 among ...

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